Climbing Rinjani

This trip was long overdue. I heard so much about beauty of Rinjani and photographs I found online just support what other people say. Mt Rinjani (3,726 m) is the second largest volcano in Indonesia, second only to Mr Kenrici in Sumatra. It is located on beautiful island of Lombok.

Within its huge 50 km² caldera sits the crater lake Segara Anak (Child of the Sea). Eruptions within the caldera have formed a new small cone called appropriately enough, Gunung Baru (New Mountain). Segara Anak has a natural hot spring. (Wikipedia)

I flew to Lombok from Singapore. It is about 4 hours flight in total however the transit in Jakarta made it little longer. I had 5 days to spare and I opted for 4D/3N trip with local tour agency. That would leave me with one extra night in Mataram before leaving Lombok.

I was picked up on airport by local staff and we drove to Sembalun village, one of the two possible starting points for this trek. Although it was insanely hot and humid on airport, Sembalun's relative high altitude (1.150 m) meant that air was little bit cooler and bearable. I have climbed Mt Semeru in East Java before and I sort of knew what was waiting for me. And the two climbs were almost identical in weather patterns as well as difficulty. It was long trek to the base camp (crater rim) in hot 35 degree heat, cloudless skies and relatively cold nights in the tent. Approach to base camp from Sembalun takes about 8hrs.

Day 2 starts early, about 3am. It takes 3-4 hours of climb to the summit to reach just before sunrise. From a distance this mountain looks quite easy to climb and sure enough it is technically very straightforward. Challenging part, similar to Semeru is the surface. Deep soft volcanic ash, sand, pebbles and loose rock make the progress very slow. 2 steps ahead and slip one step back. It is slow...painfully slow. On the hard surface it can be done in 2 hours easily. On this particular day we had also incredibly strong wind and wind gusts. Even though I am relatively heavy fellow, I nearly got blown out of the mountain few times. Couple of times I had to stop and crunch for a minute or two as the wind was pushing me down hill.

My fingers were quite frozen. I later checked the data from my watch (I tracked the GPS, temperature and altitude) and temperature was somewhere between 0 up to 5 degrees during the summit push. I reached the summit just before sunrise and spend there about 20 minutes. It was quite cold and extremely windy. From about 20 photos I took on the summit only 2-3 are reasonably sharp. Thats how hard it was to stay still in that wind. And let's be honest. I was also tired :)

Going down is sometimes more difficult that climbing up. I personaly rather climb than go down. It was so dusty everywhere, I never felt so dirty in my life. And with sun up the sky the temperatures were raising quickly.  Anyway, down in the base camp we had breakfast and then we headed to the crater lake. It's even more going down on not so knee-friendly surface. But after 2 hours or so we were setting up the camp again.

Night spent at the lake shore was relaxing. There is a natural hot-spring pool nearby and it was very refreshing to spend some time there and also wash some of the dirt down. The weather was still extremely hot, light quite flat most of the time. Just that heat takes lot of strength away.

There were many other campers at the site as well as at base camp the day before. I was little negatively surprised by how much rubbish is everywhere. I though this area being an national park is going to be somewhat cleaner but if you expect pristine nature, you are set for disappointment. I found it actually very sad that it was mostly local tourists leaving all this trash behind.

Next day we climbed out of the crater and set out for trek towards the Senaru village. We spent last night camping in the jungle about a mile before gates of Senaru. This was actually very enjoyable because there was nobody else but us and campsite was clean. We run out of cooking gas so we collected some dry fire wood. This was a real deal, some real camping. Night was quiet. That is if you can call the night jungle quiet.

Quick word on guides and porters. In my opinion they were the real highlight of this trip. Top notch service, excellent attitude, down to earth people. Food was also extremely good. The porter who cooked did a really good job. I enjoyed their company and had a really good time.

After trip we drowe back to Mataram where I stayed overnight before I flew back home the day after. It was a short trip but it was good. Rinjani is challenging to climb even though it is not an extreme altitude or very technical climb. It can still test you. Locals in Lombok are very nice people, always with big smiles. What I was little disappointed is the cleanliness of Rinjani National Park. Tourist tracks and camp spots need and throughout cleaning.

I have attached few images from the trip. Here I have to say I was not really impressed by myself. I do not have one single image that I would be really happy with but I figured I need to illustrate this article at least with something :)

As always, if you have any comments, questions or anything to say, I would love to hear it. Cheers.